Alexis "Lexie" J. Smith
Created by E.E. (Evelyn Eileen) Smith
"Trust everyone... but always cut the cards."
-- Lexie's father's advice, which she tries to follow
Young widow and Sacramento-based private eye ALEXIS J. SMITH appears in a string of well-written but roughly edited e-books set in the 1940s and written by E.E. Smith (not to be confused with E.E. "Doc" Smith, a sci-fi writer of the 1930-40s).
When we first meet "Lexie," in Death By Misadventure (2013), it's 1948. World War II is over, and Lexie is a young war widow with a solid background in forensics, trying to make a go of it as a private investigator, with a fledgling agency that promises "Discreet Inquiries." A former classmate walks in and offers her a lot of money to track down her missing husband, Frank Faraday (aka "the rat," "the s.o.b." etc.) and their five-year old daughter Daisy. The hitch is that back in high school, Lexie had this huge crush on Frank. Oh, and the client seems to want Lexie to kill her husband.
Worried her old friend is in danger, she eventually tracks down to England, and finds he and Daisy staying in a quaint (and supposedly haunted) country inn in England, with considerable aid from her new friend (and burgeoning love interest), handsome Inspector Harry Hawkins of Scotland Yard. As meet-cutes go, it's not bad.
A particularly well done but typical romantic suspenser, a little too much "had I but known" for my tastes, perhaps, but generally well-written, some solid characters and a good use of setting. And the Derringer-carrying Lexie also displays a considerable amount of almost anachronistic and intriguing independence -- with no husband or father to weigh her down, she's free to pretty much do and say what she wants, and to go where she wants (usually right into trouble). Plus, she's not shy about using whatever it takes, including her status as a widow, to get what she wants. The author captures the era's culture with great zeal, paying particular attention to the post-war's shifting politcal allegiances andever-evolving social and cultural changes.Set in 1948 Sacramento, the former high school cheerleader and young widow, who has studied forensic science is on the case(s), conducts ìDiscreet Inquiries.î
By the second book, Bad Blood (2014), Lexie's back in California, but soon returns to England at the request of her new friend Harry from Scotland Yard, who needs her help on a case. And so it goes, throughout the series, Lexie and Harry bouncing back and forth between here and there (with a memorable side trip to Spain), working on some coincidence-ridden case or another. Lots of Cold War paranoia and romance, and more wit and grit and with than usual in this sort of book (although Lexie does show some surprising naivetée and to require an inordinate amount of rescue for such a take-charge kinda gal).
Evelyn Eileen Smith is a playwright living in the San Francisco Bay area. She's written several novels, including Boardinghouse Stew, inspired by her own real-life experiences working in a boardinghouse in Sacramento during World War II, Times Like These and In Love and War, based on her experiences as a young bride during wartime.
The author's official web site.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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